Holyoke fire chief defending himself after “no confidence” vote

Says changes to fire engines will not have negative effect on public safety

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Holyoke Fire Chief John Pond is standing by his decisions, following a vote of “no confidence” in his leadership by members of the firefighters’ union.

Holyoke firefighters’ union says they have “no confidence” in mayor and fire chief

Union members voted Monday to express their displeasure with Pond and Mayor Alex Morse. They are particularly upset with the “browning out” of Engine 2, which serves South Holyoke. The union claims that having the engine frequently out of service creates a gap in coverage, which turned dangerous during the deadly apartment building fire on New Year’s Day. Pond says that this is not the case at all, and that tough budgetary decisions have to be made to ensure taxpayers get the best service for their money.

“The browning out of Engine #2 does not shut down a fire station, as it is not housed in its own building, but is located at Headquarters, along with Engine #1 and Truck #1,” Pond wrote in a statement sent to 22News.

“The redistribution plan will not reduce response times to emergencies; it will make the Fire Department the appropriate size for the City and at the same time increase the number of firefighters on responding apparatus, which in turn will provide more efficient services for the City of Holyoke.”

Pond says that in his five years as chief, he has hired 37 new firefighters and replaced three fire engines.

Wednesday, Morse told 22News that the city firefighters have been given wage increases in their contract, without a need to go into arbitration.

Statement from Holyoke Fire Chief John Pond